“Since May last year Subhuti has led four Order meditation retreats; three in India and one in the UK. He’s been leading twice-yearly retreats in India for over ten years, and they perform a vital function in the life of the Indian Order, providing a real opportunity for depth and reflection amidst the busyness and demands of Indian life. In the last year he has been focusing more on meditation; one on the Satipatthana Sutta and one on the System of Meditation. Both retreats have seen high attendances, one with 108 Order members - over a quarter of the male Indian Order. Numbers of course do not preclude depth and I heard several people reporting them to be the deepest retreats they'd ever attended.
“The retreat in the UK had slightly less people, but depth was certainly present, with several saying during the reporting out it had been the most intense retreat they'd been on for years. Again the theme was The System of Meditation and talks are available here on Free Buddhist Audio. This was the first retreat Subhuti has led in the UK since 2002, but we hope it will become an annual event. Whether in India or the UK, these retreats are connected with promoting depth, especially within the Order, and personally this seems to me to be one of the key functions that Subhuti can perform. Obviously the retreat context is best for this, but it can be achieved more widely too.
“In August he attended part of a large retreat for Chairs and others taking organisational responsibility within the Triratna Buddhist Community. Here he spoke on Just Sitting and the Six Elements practise. It seems that Just Sitting particularly has been needing more emphasis within our Order - Bhante had always given it a central place but that seemed to have slipped. In his talk on the subject Subhuti introduced the 'Five Justs' (five ways to approach Just Sitting) and that certainly helped me get clearer about what I'm meant to be doing in this practise.
“Whist in the UK, Subhuti has been spending more time at his home in North Wales, where he hopes to do more writing. In the past year that has mainly consisted of editing and preparing material based on interviews with Bhante. These pieces, now published, cover important areas of Bhante's character and approach to the Dhamma that hopefully will serve as a basis for clarity both for us and those in the future. I also hope to edit some of his spoken material into resources that can be published on-line. They are available on Sangharakshita’s website www.sangharakshita.org .
“Subhuti has been an increasing presence at the London Buddhist Centre, making 3 visits in the last eighteen months. During these visits he has returned to his popular 'Rambles Around...' format, where he gives somewhat open talks with an opportunity for questions. These take place in the early evening – just before the main classes, leading to a somewhat chaotic but spiritually rich traffic jam at change over time! If you'd like to listen to these talks they’re here on FreeBuddhistAudio. They were given before the publication of 'Revering the Dharma’ and you can see Subhuti developing those ideas through these talks
“Subhuti’s other significant outreach area in Europe is his work in Hungary. A group of Roma (Gypsies) have developed a connection with Dr Ambedkar and become Buddhist. Although the movement there is small and tender, developments are occurring. Some of these mirror our approach to work and teaching in India - for example Subhuti emphasises the importance of personal responsibility as the first implication of karma, and a vital one for members of disadvantaged communities such as the Gypsies. After having a 'conversion ceremony' one young Gypsy was seen exclaiming 'I'm a Buddhist, I'm a Buddhist!' with a sense of pride and self confidence that is an important step in starting to change the basis of his self identity to something more positive. Their website is at http://Jaibhim.hu
“Back in India, Subhuti has also been doing outreach work. In December we held a Dhammakranti (‘Peaceful Revolution’) retreat in Gulbarga in Karnataka - a new area for us. We had a thousand retreatants for five days and a substantial Order team (shown opposite). It was the usual slightly chaotic mix of talks, meditation, chatting and puja! What seemed most significant for me was the effect we had on the local Bhikkhus in charge of the centre where the retreat took place. At the start of the event we had some difficulties, but by the end they organised a felicitation program where they gave the fourteen Order members present garlands and small gifts. This is significant because our emphasis on Going for Refuge instead of on Bhikkhu ordination is more controversial in India. However, in his concluding speech the head Bhikkhu emphasised the depth and genuineness of the Dhamma which we communicated!
“This work makes a significant contribution to the Sangha both in the West and in India. Thanks to modern technology we are more able than ever to make material taught in either context available to others. Thanks mostly to FreeBuddhistAudio, but also to Videosangha and CD and DVD distribution in India, the Dharma is spread beyond those who attend events that Subhuti leads/ participates in.
Much of Subhuti’s support is raised by personal donations, and I collect donations via a fundraising page on JustGiving - see www.justgiving.com/supportingsubhuti . The money raised here contributes supporting Subhuti's work for the Dharma, spanning both India and the UK. There's also a Facebook page where you can keep in touch with what we're up to.